There are places in the world that are beyond the scope of imagination, where every moment you’re awake you have to pinch yourself to confirm so, Melia Serengeti Lodge is one of those places.
I know I’m not alone when it comes to having had a tough year these past 12 months but if I knew they would lead to these five unforgettable days in Tanzania, I’d go through it all again.
Last week with a negative PCR test in hand I travelled to Tanzania, one of my favourite countries in the world. It was my second visit to the African country and my first long haul trip since March 2020. Travelling with my friend Aimee we decided to sandwich a trip between Zanzibar and The Serengeti, providing us with the perfect mix of aquatic and land adventure. As I was working with the luxury hotel brand Melia I knew we were in for a great trip but nothing could have prepared us for the monumental five days we ended up experiencing. I can’t imagine I’ll ever have a trip that can top this!
The excitement of the Safari starts from the moment you begin traveling there, we few internationally in and out of Zanzibar and then to get to The Serengeti we took a small plane to Arusha on the mainland and then an even smaller plane onto Seronera.
I booked all my flights via skyscanner and there were lots of tour operator options to travel within Tanzania itself, we chose the company Flightlink as the timings worked best for us and they were great.
Upon arrival we were met by our wonderful driver, Josure. He immediately ushered us to the Melia Serengeti Lodge Safari Jeep and then went back into the airport to handle all our park entry paperwork for us. After all was completed we set out for our first game drive, Aimee’s first ever safari experience.
As with all journeys in The Serengeti you are technically on a ‘game drive’ every time wheels are in motion as the animals are entirely wild. The transfer to Melia Serengeti Lodge from the Seronera strip is roughly an hour so even if you don’t have a game drive specifically booked in, the transfer will be a journey you’ll never forget!
This trip my third Safari experience, I had been to Tsavo East in Kenya (pre-blogging times) and also The Serengeti for my 30th birthday 4 years ago so when it came to spotting the animals there was only one I had yet to see, the infamous and extremely rare Rhinoceros. I had also never really been able to get up close and personal to any of the big cats so I was eager to see more of them.
Before setting off Josure asked us what we were most keen to see on our imminent wild expedition, Aimee excitedly replied with ‘a lion’ and I replied with ‘any of the big cats’. We also affirmed in unison that despite the rarity of sightings we would today, see a Rhino. Josure though impressed with our confidence attempted to manage our expectations by letting us know that the last time he saw a Rhino was in September, though the fire in our hearts was not that easily dwindled 😉
With our positive mental attitude a splash of Aimee’s ‘beginners luck’ we embarked on a game drive that will go down in history…..not only for our own memories but for tales of The Serengeti itself.
Within a few minutes of leaving the airport, we drove side by side two adult lions. Aimee’s luck was in and to our delight it remained with us for the duration of the trip.
The Safari Jeep
The Melia Serengeti Lodge Safari Jeep boasts all the luxuries you can imagine with a open roof, comfortable seating for 6 people, a fully stocked mini fridge, plug sockets, binoculars and all of the sanitizing goods required the keep clean during your expedition. It’s a true A-List experience.
Combining our luck with the impeccable commitment, skill and perseverance of our driver Josure we continued our first drive by seeing every possible animal there was to see, all within 5 hours of arriving!
We saw all of the desirable big five, Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Buffalos and a RHINO!!!! Also zebras, antelope, giraffes, warthogs, baboons, hyenas and much more. On top of that my big cats up close and personal wish came true. We saw a cheetah and two cubs just metres away from the van also a leopard and an even rarer cat, the Serval.
Though I didn’t manage to snap a fabulous picture of our grey-horned friend I did capture their presence in my YouTube video, see for yourself here:
We couldn’t have planned a better drive and we also had the pleasure of stopping along the way for a ‘bush’ lunch that was wonderfully pre-prepared for us by the Melia Serengeti Lodge team. High out in the open for a safe 360 degrees view we ate a delicious hot meal under a shaded picnic set up just a few hundred meters away from Zebras, if you look closely to my right you’ll spot them 😉
Melia Serengeti Lodge
After our epic first few hours in the national park we arrived at Melia Serengeti Lodge as the sun was going down through the clouds, the beauty of the resort really comes to life during golden hour so we arrived at the most perfect time for our first introduction to the vast expanse of uninterrupted views. The scenery took my breath away and exceeded all expectations of previously pinned pictures, I’m sad to admit even my own snaps failed to do it justice.
The grounds are poetically overlooking the Savanah with a large swimming pool, perfectly nestled open air restaurants and beautifully authentic furniture and art.
All rooms at Melia Serengeti Lodge face out towards the infinite Savanah ahead of the hotel, so even from within your room you have the chance to watch wild animals below.
I stayed in an awe-inspiring one bedroom suite that had an adjoining suite for Aimee within it’s own quarters. The room was larger than my entire London flat and yet with soft warm tones and traditional wooden furniture the space came together so perfectly creating a ‘home from home’ atmosphere. Within the room there’s so many sweet and significant touches from Tanzania from the hand-sewn table cloths to the home grown coffee, and tribal art on the wall. Melia Serengeti Lodge prides itself on sourcing not just local ingredients and materials but also supporting communities within the national park and Tanzania.
On the subject of authenticity I was so impressed and humbled by the sustainability efforts and practices at Melia Serengeti Lodge; Solar panels produce 45% of the energy, they have their own water source on the property and used soaps of the hotel are donated to the NGO Comeco, which sterilizes them and recycles them, and then donates them to remote schools and families with limited resources.
The guestrooms items and facilities are produced by Maasai artisans and local businesses, mostly owned by women and Melia Serengeti Lodge collaborates with the Dada Project from Zanzibar, supporting local women and empowering them as income-makers. Melia Serengeti Lodge collaborate with the NGO Shanga, which recycles glass and gives them a second life in the shape of glassware of different kinds, which is handmade by their disabled staff.
The hotel is magical beyond the obvious aesthetics but knowing about these amazing incentives and the support they give the local communities takes it to the next level when it comes to truly capturing guests hearts.
Melia Serengeti Lodge is famous for creating uniquely tailored experiences. There’s so much magic in the game drives and at the resort but what really sets Melia Serengeti Lodge apart from alternative safari accommodations is their ability to bring to life moments and experiences you may have never even thought of. The hotel’s superstar manager, Cesar has a vibrant imagination so if you’re dreaming it, he’s probably already made it possible! From guided walking safaris to private sunsets by the watering hole, Cesar is a Serengeti Genie.
We were treated to one of these incredible activities on our very first evening and it was a true ‘once in a lifetime’ dining experience. Caught completely by surprise Aimee and I were driven past a herd of buffalo into the depths of the national park where the most incredible set-up awaited us; an enchantingly laid table was set up beneath a tree of glowing lanterns in front open log fire facing towrads the sunset. The romantic scene was like a mirage, all the while, a functioning ‘restaurant’.
A full team of staff were on hand there to ensure our evening was both safe and fully catered to with a chef, two waiters, our driver and the necessary park ranger and Maasai Warrior.
Dining a-la-carte beneath a blanket of stars surrounded by the warmth of flickering open fires was spell bounding. All the while The Serengeti’s wildlife enjoyed the show being the opposite way round for once 😉
After the most magical evening we slept like babies in our suite to the soothing sounds of the safari through our netted windows. In the morning we ate a delicious breakfast by the pool with a stunning view of the Savanah and after filling up on fresh fruits and pastries we set off on another Safari game drive thinking ‘what could possibly top yesterday?’ – Our famous last words!
To our absolute delight, it was just as special as the day before!
This day we saw two baby leopards sitting in a tree above us, a gigantic herd of elephants crossing the road we were parked on, a large pride of mamma lions, with their children (including a baby Simba that can’t have been more than 3 weeks old!) and of course the hundreds of wildebeest and Zebras we had become accustomed to.
After two game drives, each of which we were incredibly lucky to see what we saw we had one more morning of animal viewing pleasure, though this time there was a unique twist 😉
As if being on Safari wasn’t bucket list worthy enough, we were invited to enjoy the plains of The Serengeti in the most spectacular way……..from the air!
Waking up at 4am usually has groggy connotations but when you’re up early for a reason as special as this we gleefully sprung out of our dreamy four poster. The excursion was booked by the team at Serengeti Melia Lodge with the reputable and first ever company to offer Hot Air Balloon rides in Tanzania, The Serengeti Balloon Company.
Up up and away in the middle of The Serengeti, PINCH ME!!!
The smooth and elevated movement of the balloon across the pride filled savannah was a breath-taking experience and with our continued luck we saw a hippos, cheetahs, a large pride of lions, elephants, zebras, gazelles, wildebeest and vultures – animals that some people don’t manage to see in an average game drive! It was incredible and our amazing guide was on hand to make us feel safe and informed throughout the entre journey.
The magical flight was celebrated with a Serengeti Sunrise (Mango Juice and Champagne) and then a lovely hot breakfast in the wild.
If you are looking for a wow-factor safari experience I highly recommend Serengeti Balloon Safari, no words, nor pictures, not even video could do it justice, the euphoric feeling we all shared on that flight is something I’ll never forget.
Though I’ve tried my best to share as much as I can with you there’s an indescribable and overwhelming feeling I have when typing this post and and uploading my social media images and videos. The experience of Safari is one of the most wholesome ‘words can’t describe’ adventures and with an even fuller heart than from leaving Tanzania four years ago I am so grateful to have returned to this magical place. We stayed at the resort for just 2 nights and I don’t think there is any more we could have crammed in to 48hrs in the national park, there wasn’t a moment that didn’t feel like a dream. It still feels as though it was………..
Thank you to Melia Serengeti Lodge for hosting me for my stay. This was a press visit in which my room and experiences were gifted by the hotel in exchange for my honest reviews and photography.